Run-off seen mandatory for top 2 runners
KABUL (Pajhwok): Amid speculation none of the eight presidential runners will be able to obtain the magic 50+1 percent of ballots, political experts say that the new law makes it compulsory for the two highest vote-grabbers to go to a second round.
Some experts have been predicting that none of the presidential candidates could get the 50+1 percent votes and the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has already announced its readiness if the polls go to the second round.
After the voting came to a close at 5pm on Saturday, Pajhwok Afghan News correspondents visited polling stations in 30 of the country’s 34 provinces to note results on the walls of mosques and schools.
A thorough look into the tallies suggested all eight presidential candidates fell short of the required number of votes. IEC officials say if one of the two top-rated candidates opts to drop out of the run-off race, the remaining one is declared the winner.
In the previous presidential election, more than one million votes were invalidated, forcing President Hamid Karzai into a run-off that he won when his challenger Dr Abdullah Abdullah opted out.
The previous election law had no mention of such a situation, but the IEC declared Karzai the winner. However, the new election law makes it mandatory for both runners to stand in the run-off.
Political Science teacher at Kabul University Nasrullah Stanikzai said the new election law suggested if a candidate refused to contest the run-off election, he/she should be fined or barred from future polls.
However, he added there was no need for new election if one of the two candidates dropped out of the runoff race and only the drop-out had to face legal punishment.
IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor also said the election law made it compulsory for the two candidates to contest a run-off race. Blank and invalid votes would have no impact on the percentage of ballots cast for a candidate.
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